Dementia: Elderly independence vs. safety

People who are diagnosed with dementia can all have different symptoms, and do not have a one size fits all solution.
Published: Apr. 17, 2023 at 7:20 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Defining dementia can be an umbrella term for a set of symptoms that include cognitive decline. People with dementia will start to lose their memories. They can be confused, and have difficulty speaking, reading, and writing.

When it comes to rights about what people can and can’t do, solutions can be tough to come by.

“They have all the rights that every other American citizen has up until the point that a judge says that they don’t, and that’s where those guardianship and conservatorship lawsuits kind of come into place,” said Jennifer Tomac, managing partner at Tomac & Tomac.

There are nearly 10 million new cases of dementia every year, and currently there are 6 million cases in the U.S. and more than 55 million cases worldwide.

Although there is no cure for dementia, the first step is planning for the future.

“It really is about talking with your loved ones, creating a plan, and then also being able to understand that things do change, but willing to be flexible in that. We want people again to meet people where they are,” said Leslie Morrow, state executive director of the South Dakota chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

“One of the best things that families can do in my experience is to plan for this ahead of time. Always being able to have documents in place that say if I’m incapacitated, this is the person I trust to make these decisions for me,” said Tomac.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association South Dakota, by the year 2025 there will be about 20,000 people over the age of 65 with Alzheimer’s.

According to the CDC Alzheimer’s is the most common type of dementia.